Album: Under the Red Cloud
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Amorphis! The Finnish band with so much history and diversity in their back catalogue, you need to be extremely intimate with everything they’ve put out to fully appreciate Amorphis as an entity. Not that I am that person, but we work with what we’ve got. Under the Red Cloud is the twelfth (!) album they’ve released in their nearly 25 years of being a band. The current incarnation of Amorphis has been around since 2006 with their Eclipse album, although in my mind they really nailed down this sound with their amazing Skyforger album in 2009. Under the Red Cloud definitely carries on the sound we’ve heard from the past few albums, but I think I hear much more folk instrumentation in this album than on previous releases.
What can I even say about Amorphis? Their sound has almost always been uniquely their own, some kind of melodic metal that refuses to take cues from the three big genres, heavy metal, death metal, and thrash metal (those are the big three, right?). Over the past few albums they have incorporated more and more death growls, but besides that, they sound nothing like death metal. And even though there is plenty of folk instrumentation on this album, they are definitely not folk metal. So what the hell is Amorphis? I suppose they are just Amorphis, and on this album they are kicking ass! Not much has changed with the core sound they’ve had for the past few albums, but Under the Red Cloud definitely feels more folky and more catchy. Check out that whistle on Death of a King!
The guitars and vocals on this album are totally on point. I cannot resist headbanging on almost all of these tracks. Clocking in at 50 minutes, Under the Red Cloud manages to keep the energy up for the entire album, swaying back and forth from songs featuring those heavy death metal vocals to those more thoughtful ballads that Amorphis is so good at. And can I just take a moment to praise Tomi’s vocals? He is just such a great singer. His clean vocals have such an air of mystery, and that slight accent works so well for Amorphis. And allowing him to let loose and use more heavy vocals was one of the best decisions they’ve made as a band, because his growls pump me up so much!
Amorphis has written some really great, fast-paced songs. Their guitar riffs pile up on you one after another, making your heart pound faster and faster, until they stop suddenly to play some nice melodic interlude or incorporate some folk instruments. It never feels like the flow or pacing is screwed up though as they move from fast to slow, because Amorphis is full of pros who really know what they are doing when it comes to songwriting. They navigate the highs and lows of each song with such deft skill that you barely realize they’ve changed the sound so drastically. The album features absolutely amazing solos, more so than I remember from previous albums. The bridge of The Skull is so blistering, it’s not something I could imagine Amorphis doing and yet there it is, and it works!
I could probably go on praising this album and feebly attempting to describe Amorphis’ unique sound, but instead I will simply say that this album keeps up the string of amazing releases, and you definitely need to listen to it.
Check out their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/amorphis